Harry Mathews came to the University of Pennsylvania to give a performance/talk on February 26, 1997, an event hosted by the “Friends of the Library” group, which is an open-minded organization the library's supporters and external overseers. Ruth and Marvin Sackner (Penn alumni) are close to the staff of the library, and have collaborated from time to time on exhibitions of concrete, visual, and sound poetry and also of artists' books. I attended Mathews's 1997 reading but cannot quite remember how it came about: I'm guessing that Bob Perelman, the Sackners', and very possibly Dan Traister (the brilliant and super-eclectic special collections librarian) were all involved. Someone had the forethought to record the event. The sound isn't perfect, especially during the Q&A. Nonetheless, the newly segmented reading is certainly worth a listen.
On January 29, 1992, David Bromige read a great many short pieces at a reading he gave at Buffalo. The recording has long been available at Bromige's PennSound page, but today for the first time it has been segmented. The segmentations are, as I say, quite new, so if readers and listeners have suggestions for improvement or correction, please by all means pass them along to me (afilreis [at] jacket2.org) and we will apply the fix. PennSound is, to say the least, an ongoing and interative process. Here now are the poems Bromige read that night:
We at PennSound are pleased to present a segmented recording of George ’s May 3, 1972, reading at San Francisco State University. The recording was then broadcast on KPFA (Berkeley) on June 2, 1972. Follow this link to PennSound’s George Oppen author page. The readings are presented in chronological order, beginning with our earliest recording dated 1963.
We at PennSound have segmented Jennifer Moxley's reading in the Segue Series at the Bowery Poetry Club (New York), October 6, 2007. Click here for links to the recordings - the complete reading and individual poems by title.
My foreword to Audiobooks, Literature, and Sound Studies, just out from Routledge, which appeared in the March Harper's. Most closely related to PennSound, see an article by Michael Hennessey on the Giorno Poetry Systems and also Jesper Olsson on the poetics of the tape recorder.
Happily, we inaugurate Jacket2. For all the complexity of the work in poetry and poetics you’ll read on these screens, what we’re doing here is I think explained rather simply. We want to preserve what John Tranter has done with Jacket in its first forty issues, and to a significant extent — although in a somewhat new mode and a somewhat different context — continue and extend it. The new mode? A site pushing technically past what’s been called 2.0, with all the vaunted interoperabilities: collaborative editing and rostering of new articles; a rotation of three-months-each guest commentators, able themselves to post contemporaneous responses to various poetics scenes they “cover”; a means of laying out features that enables readers to see at once all diverse elements of materials and responses to a single poet or topic as gathered by a guest editor; an image gallery for uncluttered viewing of many images associated with an article or feature; podcast series (such as PoemTalk and Into the Field) both streamable right on the page and downloadable for free; video players both inline and linked; a Reissues department for making otherwise inaccessible archival material available in full digital facsimile; advanced searching through both new Jacket2 pieces and every single article, review, and announcement ever published in old Jacket; and seamless server-side linked cross-relations between critical responses written for J2 about readings and recordings on one hand and, on the other, all the digital audio (and video) stored in the vast archive known as PennSound. Even as we just get started, dig around and you’ll find a great deal here — and tons of potential.
Nancy Kuhl and her colleagues at the Beinecke Library, Yale University, have been discussing with us at PennSound for many months the treasure trove of recordings that Lee Anderson had made and collected and eventually donated to Yale. First the Beinecke folks have begun to preserve the recordings by transferring them from old media to digital files. Then, happily, through a pilot project with PennSound, we are together making a selection of them available for everyone. The first of these readings is was given by Robert Duncan and recorded in 1952. Today for the first time, PennSound and the Beinecke together make available segmented files of 12 poems Duncan read that day. Here is your link to PennSound's Duncan page and this new recording.
John Richetti is a much-respected scholar of 18th-century English literature, but here he makes a strong case for moonlighting as a voice-over man, registering as something in that much-neglected space between Rod Serling and a used-Jaguar salesman. On PennSound, an entire page is devoted to his readings of various works by Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift, and John Dryden; fittingly, it's listed in the PennSound Classics section, which is a terrific place to begin one's trek through the site's often intimidating topography. Everything here is wonderful: Richetti reads each work in a charmingly insouciant tone, one that belies the considerate thought he has given each recitation, which are never less than great fun, and are often quite relevatory.
I recommend listening to everything on this page, but, in the interest of highlighting a place to begin, I don't think one could go wrong with Dryden's Mac Flecknoe or Swift's Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift, perhaps with Pope's On a Lady who P?st at the Tragedy of Cato as a chaser.
PennSound's Maggie O'Sullivan page includes a recording of a discussion with Penn students in Charles Bernstein's "studio 111" seminar. Michael Nardone has transcribed the session now and here is a portion:
PENN STUDENT: Thank you for your close reading, Ms. O’Sullivan. I was wondering if you could describe the relationship between performing your work and writing it.
O’SULLIVAN: Well, it depends on, every situation is different. Performing it is another opportunity to re-engage with the text at different levels, and another opportunity to negotiate the text on the page.
As you’ve probably heard, I often find my work is quite difficult for me to read from the page. Writing it, I hear the sounds often in my ear. But having to perform it, all the difficulties emerge. There’s lots of disconnectiveness and disjunctiveness that is kind of working against how I sort of, how sometimes it seems it may be read.
PENN STUDENT: Would you consider, sort of, maybe, performing it to be more body intensive than, I guess, writing it.
O’SULLIVAN: Well, writing is a body-intensive activity, totally. Absolutely, totally. The whole body is engaged in the act of writing. Whether it’s on the computer, with using a pen in the hands. The breath is involved in all activities. But with the performing, there are others that you have to connect with, and the place of performing also figures on it.
PENN STUDENT: A number of your poems integrate different languages, musical notes, pictures, and streaks, and they push the possibilities of poetic forms on the page. I was wondering whether this is supposed to conflict with the words, compliment them, or maybe even both.
O’SULLIVAN: The words working as part of all this kind of radical shifting—